Rahul Gandhi has spoken of two Indias, one rich and one poor. Two things are to be said about that.
First, his party in general and his family in particular is mainly responsible for the poverty in India. Congress has ruled India for most of the time since independence. Rahul Gandhi’s great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru was prime minister in 1947-1964, his grandmother Indira Gandhi was prime minister in 1966-1967 and 1980-84, his father Rajiv Gandhi was prime minister in 1984-1989 and his mother Sonia Gandhi controls the government since May 2004. The policy of socialism and nationalisations followed by Congress kept the country backward.
Second, there are not just two but many Indias. First India is of Rahul Gandhi’s family. They have SPG security. It does not matter whether any one of them is MP, public servant or private citizen.
There is India of ministers, MPs, MLAs and other politicians. They tell CEOs to cut down their salaries but they triple or multiply their own salaries, allowances, pensions and perks. Our MPs have increased their salaries from Rs.16,000/- p.m. to Rs.50,000/- p.m., constituency allowance from Rs.20,000/- p.m. to Rs.45,000/- p.m., office allowance from Rs.20,000/- p.m. or whatever amount it was to Rs.45,000/- p.m., daily allowance from Rs.1,000/- to Rs.2,000/-, pension from Rs.8,000/- p.m. to Rs.20,000/- along with many other increases. Punjab MLAs have followed suit and increased the salaries and allowances of chief minister, cabinet ministers, leader of the opposition, speaker, deputy speaker, chief parliamentary secretary and MLAs.
There is India of bureaucrats. They decide their salaries, allowances, pensions and perks. They get various exemptions. MPs find out bureaucrats get something they do not get and they also want that.
There is India of Indian Olympic Association officials. They are accountable to no one. They hold power as long as they want. They get money from government and spend as they wish. They drop good athletes from teams and claim they are rested. Many times athletes do not get their dues and when they go on strike people come to know about athletes’ conditions.
There is India of billionaires. Some became billionaires because government allowed tax exemptions on certain incomes. For long export earnings were tax free. Now there are SEZs. Government sells land that costs five crore rupees to SEZs at ten lakh rupees. SEZs get many other concessions. Billionaires earn more money.
There is India of multi-millionaires. They aspire to be billionaires.
There is India of film stars and cricketers. When they are successful they make lot of money. Some actors claim to be farmers and buy agricultural land. One actor claimed he was farmer because his great grandfather was farmer. Agricultural income is exempt from Income Tax.
There is India of millionaires. Today a million is not what it used to be fifty years ago. In many cities and suburbs a million is not enough to buy a 1BHK flat.
There is India of middle class people. Change in technology and availability of loans has meant people who were considered rich at one time are considered middle class today.
There is India of poor. Economists differ on criteria to identify poor. The percentage of poor in India differs according to economists. The phrases above poverty line and below poverty line also confuse. Below poverty line means less than poor but many times used to indicate poor.
There is India of destitutes. Sometimes Rahul Gandhi visits their houses. But Congress does not want any such person to contest elections. When Kalavati, whose house Rahul Gandhi visited, wanted to contest elections Congress put pressure on her to withdraw.
That was about mainstream India. Outside mainstream there are many Indias.
There is India of Khap panchayats. They do not follow the rule of law. People who marry against the rules of khap panchayats are murdered. Rarely the murderers are punished.
There is India of Naxals. They control large territories.
There is India of regional groups. One group blockaded Manipur for more than 60 days and Indian government did not act.
Food grains rot in godowns. Instead of distributing food grains PM Manmohan Singh joins issue with Supreme Court and says it is not possible to distribute food grains free and Supreme Court should not get into policy matters. People pay high prices for food. Government collects food grains for rotting. Taxpayers’ money is wasted. What type of policy is this?
Rahul Gandhi is old wine in old bottle with new label. He has not spoken out against reservations in government run educational institutions, government jobs, legislatures and local bodies. Schemes meant for helping poor lead to corruption. India will be better off if Rahul Gandhi uses his influence to abolish reservations and subsidies and scrap various schemes.